The Hawaiian Islands are made up of eight major islands and a complex archipelago of a chain of widely dispersed islets in the Central Pacific Ocean. The islands are cosmopolitan making up a population of 1.2 million. Like mainland America, the island is not immune from the illicit drug industry and every variety of drugs can be found in Hawaii. Because of the large and widespread area, drug policing has been difficult to control. The drug industry has also posed a major threat to social problems at all levels of life. The majority of drugs are brought into Hawaii via air, sea or via the postal service. With 7-12 million tourists arriving each year, drug smuggling is a major issue in Hawaii.
Cocaine retains it glamour and popularity among drug users. The drug is readily available throughout Hawaii, and is often used in combination with other drugs including heroin and marijuana. The demand for cocaine is increased by the burgeoning tourist industry. Law enforcement data indicate an increase in cocaine trafficking especially during peak tourist seasons. Cocaine is trafficked by many ethnic groups. Since 9/11, increasing security at the borders has resulted in significant cocaine seizures both at the airport and at sea.
Black tar heroin is occasionally available in Hawaii. It is a frequent drug in the major cities but rare in rural Hawaii. It is primarily smuggled in via the airport and drug seizures are common. Despite various ingenious wrappings and concealments, Law enforcement is always on the lookout for heroin.
Crystal methamphetamine (ice) remains the number one drug abused in Hawaii. The drug is easily available and widely distributed by locals. The majority of crystal methamphetamine available in Hawaii is produced in Mexico and California. It is transported via air or sea using complex courier and packaging systems.
The drug is eventually distributed throughout the islands by gangs who make it easily available in major cities and towns. Associated with the increase use of Methamphetamine has been a social crises with increasing gang related violence, drug related crime, thefts, family breakdowns and economic hardships.
Abuse of club drugs including MDMA, GHB, and LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide), is increasing among Hawaii’s college youth and the large military population stationed in Hawaii. These drugs are easily available and typically consumed at night clubs, beach parties and bars. Over the last decade, MDMA, or ecstasy has become the drug of choice among teenagers, military personnel and college students. Since ecstasy is not manufactured in Hawaii, the majority is smuggled in via the air and sea. Parcels are regularly inspected by the US Postal service to ensure that drugs are not smuggled. The majority of the club drugs are trafficked by Asian organizations.
MDMA is not manufactured in Hawaii, but is shipped from the mainland via parcels and smuggled on incoming flights through the airport. Small quantities of MDMA are sold and used in bars, nightclubs, and rave parties. LSD, GHB and PCP are also available in some parts of the island, but ecstasy remains the drug of choice for abuse.
Club drugs remain a problem for the military population. With a large military presence in Hawaii, law enforcement is seeing more and frequent episodes of clubs drug usage among the military personnel. These drugs are favorites partly because of the speed at which these drugs are eliminated from the body and avoid detection. Unlike other states, Hawaii's law enforcement maintains an open eye on all its military personnel and frequently or random checkups and searches.
The second drug of choice for Hawaii continues to be marijuana. Hawaii leads all nations as a major grower of top grade marijuana. This home grown material is also exported all over the United States. The majority of the state’s marijuana cultivation is on the Big Island of Oahu. The year around tropical climate with ample water is ideal for marijuana growth. Outdoor marijuana is typically grown along the mountain ridges and tropical valleys along the hill sides. The vast majority of marijuana is grown in the rural islands and on private property with open fields.
The highly potent and pure form of marijuana, known as BC Bud, continues to be smuggled from Canada to the mainland and subsequently to Hawaii. Seizures of marijuana are very common at the airport and sea customs. Because so much of marijuana is locally produced, policing has been difficult as there are multiple groups and inpiduals involved. No one major drug organization dominates the marijuana trade in Hawaii.
Hydrocodone is the most abused pharmaceutical drug in Hawaii. The drug is readily available by doctor shopping, via the internet, employee theft from drug inventories, forgeries and prescription falsification, and indiscriminate prescribing of drugs by doctors for other than legitimate reasons. Because of the beach life and a great interest in body building, anabolic steroid use is also on the increase.
DEA Mobile Enforcement Teams have been established to counter the overwhelming problem of drug-related violent crimes in towns and cities across the nation. Since the inception of the MET Program, thousands of arrests have been made. In addition, DEA Regional Enforcement Teams have augmented existing DEA pision resources by targeting drug organizations operating in the United States where there is a lack of sufficient local drug law enforcement. This Program was conceived nearly 20 years ago has helped track down the threat posed by drug trafficking organizations.
Hawaii recently legislated a bill that allows patients to use medical marijuana if they get be registered by the local State Department of health and also registered by their physicians.
The people of Hawaii still remain liberal in their drug policy laws. Seizure money from drug gangs has led to the establishment of numerous clinics for drug treatment and drug rehabilitation of drug addicts. The money is also being used as part of education and providing support for the addicts while in rehabilitation.
In 2000, Hawaii became the first state to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes through the legislative process, adopting legislation similar to what voters have approved in seven other states. Also in 2002, Hawaii became the first state to adopt Proposition 36 “treatment instead of incarceration” legislation. Legislators have also passed bills in support of industrial hemp since 1996, including legislation making it legal for the first hemp test plot to grow in America.
A greater understanding of drug addiction has led to newer reforms and Hawaii strongly supports the notion that ““treatment instead of incarceration” is a modern way to deal with drug addicts.